Cleistocactus Ritteri | A Wooly Columnar |

Cleistocactus ritteri is a columnar cactus which usually come along with bristly soft spines. They are known as flowering plants. 

They would be great picks for hanging baskets so that they can grow while hanging over. Cleistocactus ritteri are native plants to Bolivia and they would usually form in altitudes over 1,000 meters above sea level. 

Cleistocactus ritteri require easy maintenance and due to that many people tend to cultivate them as houseplants too. 

Furthermore, even starters in gardening can grow these spectacular plants as they require easy maintenance. So, brace yourself and get ready to learn on these spectacular plants

Cleistocactus Ritteri

How do I identify Cleistocactus ritteri?

Cleistocactus ritteri form as a shrubby columnar cactus. Further they would branch out basally along with some erect forming branches. 

They would rise to a maximum height of 1 meter. Besides they would be about 2-3 cm in diameter. 

Moreover, they would consist of bristly soft spines too. In addition to these they produce flowers in yellow as well. Cleistocactus ritteri stems would be slim and form in an erecting form. They would be bright green.

Apart from that they would comprise 12-16 ribs. Their areolas would be first dark in color, and they would become gray, white in color as they mature. 

Moreover, Cleistocactus ritteri would consist of 5 central spines. They would be yellow in color and 1 cm in length.

Cleistocactus ritteri would carry about 30 radial spines. They would be more like hair and white in color. Moreover, they would be 3 cm in length. 

The spination of the Cleistocactus ritteri defends them from the harsh sunlight. Further they would trap an air layer next to the cactus body which is crucial for the plants well being 

Cleistocactus ritteri blossom flowers which tend to take a pointed shape. Moreover, chances are that they may form in a slightly downward manner also. 

Those flowers will form in green, yellow to lemon yellow colors. Ultimately, they would produce a fruit which tends to take a globose shape. They would also be yellow and 1.5 cm in diameter.

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Growth rate

Cleistocactus ritteri usually grow at a light speed.

One look care guide

Botanical NameCleistocactus ritteri
Plant TypeSucculent / cactus
Mature Size1 meter height and 2-3 cm in diameter
Sun ExposureFull sunlight to partial shade
Soil TypeWell draining , sandy
Soil pHNeutral
Bloom Timemid spring to late spring and in early summer
Flower ColorPale yellow and in bright yellow
Hardiness ZonesUSDA hardiness zones 9b-11
Native AreaBolivia
ToxicityNot toxic
Average price $ 12

How do you take care of Cleistocactus ritteri?

Light Requirement 

It is vital  that you plant the Cleistocactus ritteri in a spot where they can gain plenty of sunlight. 

Ideally, they need to gain bright and indirect full sunlight for the vigorous growth of the plants. Having said that if you experience any extreme summer conditions, the ideal thing which you could do is to grow them along with a bit of shade especially during the intense hot hours of the day. 

They can withstand the bright full sunlight only during the early morning hours of the day as it is not that intense.

Temperature and humidity

Cleistocactus ritteri can tolerate frost conditions. In fact, they are tolerant of a colder temperature up to -7 degrees Celsius. 

Further chances are that they can tolerate even less temperatures if they are dry. Having said that, when you cultivate them, I recommend not to expose them to colder conditions which are less than 0 degrees Celsius as then it would be harmful for the plants. 

If you accidentally expose them to frost for extended periods it would create an unhealthy impact on the plants. It will result in anti-aesthetic spots on the epidermis.  

Is it cold hardy?

Cleistocactus ritteri are cold hardy up to -7 degrees Celsius when they grow in the wild.


Cleistocactus ritteri prefer to grow in USDA hardiness zones 9b-11

Watering Requirement 

Cleistocactus ritteri would grow well and vigorously if you water them well. 

So, I recommend watering them regularly during summer whilst ensuring that you are allowing the soil to dry before you irrigate them again. 

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You need to keep them dry during winter all the time. You could water the plants once every few weeks during fall. Refrain from over watering them as unless it would lead to root rot. 

Soil Requirement Type / ph

Cleistocactus ritteri would perform well if you grow them in a rich substrate which has an excellent drainage

These are quite susceptible for root rot, and it is important that you grow them in a well-draining soil mix. if you end up providing a poor draining soil mix it will retain excess moisture within the pot and lead to root rot. Best is to use a soil mi which is sterilized, and which has a high porosity as well.

It would result in the healthy growth of the plants. If you wish you may also use garden soil for this purpose. 

However, ensure that you are using sterilized garden soil only.. You could add elements such as sand, perlite and some peat moss to better the aeration of the soil mix as well as the draining factor.

Pot size Potting and Repotting

I encourage growing the Cleistocactus ritteri in pots which are made out of a porous material. 

That will help the plant to evaporate the excess moisture to the air at a rapid rate. Hence , I would recommend you go ahead with clay pots to plant the Cleistocactus ritteri

Besides, it should consist of at least one or two draining holes as well. That way you could rely on the fact that the pot will not retain the excess moisture within the pot.

In terms of repotting the Cleistocactus ritteri plants, best would be to conduct it when their roots become cramped. 

In general context you need to repot them once every two years so that it will provide fresh growing conditions for the plants.

Ensure that you report them during their active growing season and whether they are dry only. After about one weeks’ time, you could water the plants.

Where to Plant 

Cleistocactus ritteri need to be planted in a place where they can gain plenty of indirect bright sunlight. In addition to that ensure that you are providing a well draining soil mix too. 

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Fertilizer and time of year

Ideally you need to feed the Cleistocactus ritteri plants with a slow-release fertilizer during spring. It will be adequate for them to thrive well for one whole year. 

The selected fertilizer should contain only a less component of Nitrogen. Instead, I recommend using a fertilizer which is high in potassium. Further never feed them when they are dormant as it would lead to unnecessary troubles then.

Cleistocactus Ritteri


Cleistocactus ritteri blossom with flowers in pale yellow and in bright yellow. They would usually bloom in mid spring to late spring and in early summer as well.


Cleistocactus ritteri are winter dormant plants. During winter, you need to let them relax and refrain from feeding them or watering them.


This plant is not known to be toxic.

Common bugs and illnesses

Root rot is a commonly spotted illness which these plants may go through and over watering could be the culprit here. 

Additionally, if you water them in excess it would lead to fungal and bacterial infections as well. In addition to that, regular pests such as aphids, mealybugs and scales would invade these plants too. 

If you come across any you could simply treat them with regular pest remedies.  

How to propagate Cleistocactus ritteri?

You could propagate the Cleistocactus ritteri by using either their stem cuttings or the seeds. 

If you wish to use the cutting method, you could simply take them off and allow them to be callous. Next plant them in a well draining soil mix.

If you wish to propagate them by seeds, you could simply sow them in a potting medium which consist of sand, perlite peat etc. 

Next you may sprinkle some water and leave the specimen in a spot where they can gain bright indirect sunlight. They would start to develop roots within three weeks’ time and only after that they would start to grow.


Hope this article was useful for you to educate yourself on how to grow these precious plants well. It is simple and you only need to supply the basic growing conditions for them. 

So, I hope now you are much more confident in handling these plants as well as now you are well equipped with the growing requirements they need. Happy cultivating with Cleistocactus ritteri !

Credit to : The Green Alchemist
Read Next : Monanthes Subcrassicaulis | A Cute Little Succulent |
About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.

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